Grass-Fed Beef and Austrian Economics

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The agents of low-fat are going to die a slow, painful death. Meat is in again. And we don’t have to use the word “lean” prior to using the word beef. Beef is beef now. All beef cuts are good. While grain-fed beef is better than no beef, the industrial food machine’s processed-plasticized beef (like the kind found in cans or frozen dinners) is rotten to the core.

Even FOX News gets it: the demand for grass-fed beef is flying high. Cash cows. Headline story. The media bobble heads like to talk about how long it takes to raise a grass-fed cow as vs. a grain-fed cow. It’s about twice as long. The roundabout methods of production apply here. If you read up on Austrian economics, you’ll note a term from Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk in his book Capital and Interest: roundaboutness. Here’s a snippet from G. Stolyarov II:

Böhm-Bawerk’s discovery can be aptly illustrated with a hypothetical case study. Suppose Robinson Crusoe, in his quest to attain fish, is faced with an alternative. He can use his bare hands for an hour to obtain 10 fish. Or he can invest an hour into producing a spear which will enable him to catch 100 fish during the next hour, after which the spear will break down from wear. The creation of the spear for later use in fishing is the more roundabout method of production. The act of creating the spear does not directly catch fish, but it furnishes Crusoe with a valuable capital good for this purpose. In one hour Crusoe will be able to use the spear to catch fish—hence, creating the spear temporally advances Crusoe to his desired goal: a greater quantity of fish.

Grass-fed farmers must be practitioners of the roundabout methods of production in order for them to reduce manual labor and bring capital and labor costs under control for the long term. They are all Austrian economists in the field, in their budgeting and planning, and in their mindset. All of the farmers I work with to obtain my food are libertarians in mindset. Next time you enjoy a grass-fed or pastured anything, thank Joel Salatin for planting the intellectual seeds of this glorious revolution, which has allowed the masses to understand their alternatives and embrace quality choices. Joel Salatin is a fan of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. So no, we don’t just preach to the choir.

7:16 am on November 24, 2012